Mat's BX Blog

Tell us about life with your BX, or indeed life in general!
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Paul296
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Post by Paul296 » Tue May 01, 2012 1:07 am

I'm sure there isn't any redneck 'squeal like a pig' ( :shock: ) knavery in your neck of the woods Mat. It looks beautiful!

Funnily enough I've met quite a few ex-BXer's who regale me with tales of their ownership and they all say the same thing; 'best car I ever owned'. I reckon that's 'cus they're the best cars you could possibly own (maybe)?!

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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by mat_fenwick » Tue May 22, 2012 1:25 pm

Before it becomes just a distant memory, I thought I'd jot down a reminder of the recent trip to France. It didn't start off terribly well, as I was so busy doing things around the house on Tuesday (to earn brownie points to pay for the holiday) that I was running slightly late when I set off. It didn't bode well when I needed a jump start to get going, as my battery was on its way out - the previous few times I'd worked on the car it had gone flat after leaving the interior lights on for a few hours. The sat nav indicated I had 10 minutes to spare for the ferry, which didn't leave much time for contingencies on a 350 mile journey! Fortunately I had a clear run, and managed to not only stop for a quick pee and a burger on the way, and still make up a bit of time.

90 minutes later and we crashed into Calais. Literally. The boat was reversing towards the docks, obviously slightly too quickly as even with full power ahead there was a crunch, and I banged my head on the window I was peering out of. Everywhere in France seemed to be shut (and I later learned it was a public holiday) but I had enough food to make an evening meal. I met up with Mike E and Jaba later that evening, and after walking through the drive in McDonald's we had a fun hour in a industrial estate layby drinking my emergency rations of whiskey (livin' the dream!)

Next morning it started OK, but after meeting up at the start point a combination of my fridge, and laptop & inverter drained the battery so it wouldn't start again. It was at this point that I decided I probably couldn't stretch the battery life to next winter as I'd been hoping, and bought a reasonably priced Bosch unit from one of the hypermarkets on the uneventful drive down. The plan was to get south as soon as possible, to make the most of the better weather and good driving roads. The weather was certainly improving, as after a damp start the temperature was in the mid 20s by the afternoon.

Next morning we arranged to meet up near the second longest aqueduct in the world, however there was a little bit of confusion and Mike E arrived just as the others were setting off.

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We did some CB swapping, and I spent the rest of the day in a convoy of two. The roads were getting more fun now, and temperatures were well into the 30s. We separated as they went to their hotel, and I set off to find the campsite. The directions from the website were hopeless, saying to turn right instead of left and during the hour or so of fruitless searching I met up with Mike Simms and Mark S, and we eventually found the site together. The drink certainly felt well earned that evening!

I was slightly perturbed to see the following sign above the sinks the following morning though!
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Now it was time for the mountains proper, and after a lunch in a street cafe with lovely views we set off on our first major climb. Tim's cooling fan was not operating, and he had both the orange and red lights come on during the ascent. A quick check showed it was not the thermal switch at fault, so to save time I (very!) temporarily rigged up a lead direct from the battery to get the fan running. We all made it to 1040 metres, were a passing bunch of workmen stopped to take our photo, and then it was down towards Savines-le-Lac for the next campsite.

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Reception was empty, so as the temperatures (and frustrations) were high some of us tucked into a beer from the fridge present, planning to pay when we booked. We called the phone number on the door, and someone promised to be with us within 10 minutes, seemingly galvanised into action at the prospect of 15 or so campers at the beginning of the season! Half an hour later they arrived, only to say that they were full. This could have been a problem, given that this was the only campsite in the area open, but we set off down the road, and the next site along agreed to open early for us, and at a very reasonable rate.

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As this was a 2 night stopover, much drink was consumed and a generally good evening was had by all, including some rather questionable taste jokes... At some point in the evening I was persuaded to sit down, which I did; unfortunately the camping chair was unable to take my weight and it collapsed in an untidy and swearing heap. Two tent pegs, two jubilee clips and a section of DIN rail later in the morning and it was (functionally if not aesthetically) as good as new.

Felt surprisingly unhungover the next morning, so after a spot of tinkering headed to a lakeside cafe for lunch, then on to try some high cols and alpine driving. The two 16 valves I was with both noticed the power dropping off as we climbed (and I certainly found it easier to stick with them higher up!) but I had no such trouble. This was a slightly cooler day (back into the mid 20s) and my engine was pulling noticeably better than the previous day. I don't know whether that was down to the cooler ambient temperature, or simply me turning the A/C off for the climbs - probably both helped.

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The last road of the day, the Col du Pontis (aerial shot above) was fantastic, real tight and twisty first/second gear stuff. I admit to getting a bit carried away, as the road was fairly narrow and although I was looking out of the side windows as I approached each hairpin, if I had met someone there it would have been tight. We tried a spot of off roading near the top, much to the surprise of the 4x4 driver coming down!

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Back to the campsite and a quick photo shoot in the evening sunlight by the lake shore:
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Sunday was back in convoy, as we climbed the Col du Laureret and la Croix. Still plenty of snow on the ground, and after playing in it had a slight worry when upon returning to the car, water seemed to be dripping from the rear of the engine. Fortunately only melting snow...

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On the way to the hotel where everyone was staying, I stopped off at the ski resort we visited in March. Very strange seeing the pistes covered in lush green grass! Once I got to the hotel it turned out that Jaba had lost a spark plug, and the threads in the head had stripped. Best guess is that it was slightly loose, and in working its way out had damaged the threads. Kermit was well stuck into the job when I arrived, trying ingenious things like wrapping a wire around the plug to try and get it to thread back in. It was no use though, so in desperation he got out some epoxy to try and glue it in. I suggested removing the sealing washer, just to give an extra turn or so of unused thread, and it seemed to work! After no luck in getting it helicoiled locally he set off for a gentle route back to Calais, and made it OK.

Geoff and Jim kindly let me have their spare bunk that night, but after a few hours unsuccessfully trying to drown out snoring I retreated to the (frosty!) car. Wasn't a bad night's sleep, but had to fully huddle in the sleeping bag for warmth and I did wonder whether I should have kept my clothes on!

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Next day I was keen to get to Interlaken, as I'd last been there 16 years ago, and wanted to relive some old memories. I ended up passing the group while stopped at a petrol station, but carried on to make the most of the day. Some more great driving was to be had, including dropping 1000m down the Forclaz pass.

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Unfortunately, the next pass on the route was closed, but didn't find that out until I was 10 miles up it, so had to turn round and retrace my steps. I managed a lower one, which was fun but once back on main roads the journey turned into a bit of a slow procession. The Swiss seemed very keen to keep just below their speed limits!

Once in Interlaken I got a photo of myself in the very same spot I wild camped. Slightly less hair now!

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I then met up with Todd and family, and went for a cold but refreshing swim in the lake. I'd collected some firewood on the way, and set about lighting a fire for the evening. Rather fittingly for a Citroen event, I used LHM as a fuel to get the wood burning, successfully if a little smokily.

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After a couple more drinks I rather fancied a dip again, so in I went. As the evening was fairly cool, it was a lot less of a shock entering the water, although the rest of the group seemed quite concerned for my safety. At the time I really couldn't see the worry, but perhaps with hindsight I can see their point. I did however go in for a last swim before the evening ended, simply as it was so nice just to be able to do that, without suffering from rain or midges. As people often remind me, life is never dull when I'm around!

The last day started with some height corrector fun on Mike E's car - the previous morning the front wouldn't rise, so he left it in high overnight to hopefully prevent this. Nope. Now it wouldn't drop. After much lever action, and bouncing on the front, it did drop but then wouldn't rise!

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Kermit again was keen to delve in, so he jacked the car up and darted underneath. Arguably this was potentially more dangerous than my midnight dip, at least until someone picked up a nearby gas cylinder and thrust it underneath should the worst happen.

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Eventually it rose, and we trailed out of Switzerland and back to the relative quiet roads of France. we had a fruitless search for the scrapyard near Colmar we had previously visited, and then paid a spur of the moment visit to some well preserved WW1 trenches at La Linge. This was a very sobering experience, especially as they are still uncovering remains of the soldiers who fought there. It was in a slightly sombre mood that we descended the mountains (in falling snow) towards Epinal.

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We had booked a table for a group meal in the hotel, and with drinks paid for by the CCC we had a good evening. Bravest participant award went to Mike Simms - most people didn't think he'd make it to the start, let alone finish! And as somebody put it, you'd be belting down the mountain, only to see a green GS at comical angles of lean, with an enthusiastic Mike cheerfully singing at full volume out of the window.

Unluckiest participant had to go to Jaba after suffering two mechanicals in two events. Both of them very unusual, and not something you'd really be able to guard against.

Next morning started off damp, as we first did a bit of shopping and then headed off to the Voie Sacrée (sacred road). A very important link to the Battlefield at Verdun, which was under constant repair during the War. We met up with a French BX enthusiast (completely by chance!) and he showed us his Ourane to which he'd also fitted a 1.9TD Xantia engine.

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Then it was time to drive back to the ferry, and after the drive down to Dover I was keen to make it a less stressful affair. I kept off the motorways, and arrived at 9:30 after a 450 mile drive. Plenty of time for my 11:00 ferry; however I was not amused to hear that it was running an hour and a half late! Exceedingly bored I resorted to paying €5 to use the port's wifi, and also started writing this saga...

I had planned to drive in the UK until I felt tired, and then stop for a kip but with running late was worried I wouldn't be able to get far, and then be caught up in M25 traffic in the morning. Imagine my joy then, when I get pulled in by Customs for a search of the car. Pulling things out the boot, trying to catch me out with questioning:
"Where have you travelled from today?" (This took an inordinately long time to think about, as I wasn't sure whether to answer "Epinal" or simply "France". The subsequent pause may have aroused their suspicions...)
"Erm.....France"
"So where have you been staying?"
"I've been travelling around and stayed in various places"
"On your own?!"
"No, with a group of friends"
"So where are they now?"
etc...

I guess it was slightly suspicious seeing an old estate car with a single male occupant who had apparently been for a holiday! Anyway, after it was clear I had no drugs, guns, or illegal immigrants stashed in my boot I was let on the way. The adrenalin flowing certainly helped my alertness!

Got onto the M25 only to find it was closed at the M3 junction. I asked the sat nav for a diversion and it directed me inwards on the M3 towards Richmond. Who am I to argue I thought, and anyway my map was buried in the back.

Left at the first roundabout seemed an obvious choice, as did left at the next. But then I spotted the 'Diverted traffic' sign which was right, further into London. I assumed that this was to spot people blindly following their sat navs, and take an official route so I followed the stream of trucks right. It was when the signs said right again, and we turned into a housing estate that I began to get concerned. More so when we passed the diversion end sign. My first thought was that someone had moved the signs for a laugh, as the road was clearly too small for tucks - they'd been ripping off branches from the trees as we passed. I could see a line of them in front of me as I turned around, thinking myself lucky I wasn't
a) towing anything
b) living in that street

By this point I was very wide awake, and had no problems driving the whole way back to North Wales. 782 miles in one day, and 2737 miles in a week - not a bad testament to the car to say I had no qualms about driving the 200 miles down to Bristol the following day.
Image

1993 1.9 TZD Turbo Estate
2006 Renault Kangoo
1996 3.9 V8 Discovery
1993 VW LT35 campervan
1985 Hyundai Stellar V8
2004 MINI Cooper (hers)

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Dollywobbler
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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by Dollywobbler » Tue May 22, 2012 1:38 pm

Nice summary! Covered a pretty good amount of miles then.

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Tim Leech
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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by Tim Leech » Tue May 22, 2012 1:40 pm

Good write up Mat, thanks again to you and Phil for your help with the fan switch, asides that she ran fine except the wonky tacho, which I will get sorted this weekend.
1985 BX 19GT Mk1
1991 BX 19TZI Auto A/C
1994 Xantia 1.8i SX
1972 Morris Marina 1.8 SDL
1979 Rover SD1 V8-S
1980 Morris Marina 1.7HL
2002 Rover 75 CDTi Connossieur SE AUTO Nav
2002 Rover 45 1.6i Spirit S Special
2003 Rover 25 1.6i XL 5 DR
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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by saintjamesy89 » Tue May 22, 2012 2:03 pm

Lol, taking the M3 into Richmond? That's my territory, 2 roundabouts further on and you'd have been able to go left and (eventually) link up with the M4 (which I assume is what you wanted?) also right at the 3rd roundabout is where my digs are for uni :thumbs: nice area, but easy to get lost.

Smashing write up! Did you work out your mpg from the trip? Very jealous... But there is always next year's event to look forward to, whatever it'll be!
I'm not a Saint, or a James, but a Tom Saint-James!

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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by mat_fenwick » Tue May 22, 2012 2:35 pm

https://www.fuelly.com/driver/mat/bx?fu=2642045 for recent mpg figures. The mountain roads in the middle of the trip, and high speed motorway driving (back in the UK) really hurt the figures. But at £1.13 a litre it wasn't as painful filling up.

Just remembered that on the way back from Switzerland we took a detour into Germany on the Autobahn. I can confirm that the CB aerial mag mount is no good after 100mph (and also that strange unexpected bangs at those speeds are no good for the heart rate!), but after taking it off I got this on the GPS:
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It just wouldn't rev any more, although if I'd gone from the speedo figure I could have claimed 120mph...
Tim wrote:thanks again to you and Phil for your help with the fan
No problem, all I did was a quick job to get you moving, Phil added a relay and switch.
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1993 1.9 TZD Turbo Estate
2006 Renault Kangoo
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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by Willy » Tue May 22, 2012 2:40 pm

Image

Anybody fancy doing a left to right? :D

(also weren't there a few women going?)
ImageImageImageImageImage

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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by Paul296 » Tue May 22, 2012 2:50 pm

Willy wrote:Image

Anybody fancy doing a left to right? :D

(also weren't there a few women going?)
My favourite pic so far. Mountains are good, cars are good, but people are better! What a fine body of men! 8) Definitely one for the wall in the officers mess!

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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by Wooscary » Tue May 22, 2012 3:17 pm

Brilliant!

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Tim Leech
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1980 Morris Marina 1.7HL DBV468W
1985 CITROEN BX 19GT C1TBX
1991 CITROEN BX 19TZI AUTO A/C BXi 19
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2002 Rover 75 CDT Connossieur SE Nav Auto R40TSL
2002 Rover 45 1.6i Spirt S TAL 91S
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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by Tim Leech » Tue May 22, 2012 3:52 pm

Paul296 wrote:
Willy wrote:Image

Anybody fancy doing a left to right? :D
!
From left is myself (check the sunburn), next is my buddy George Cobden (whos bought my TZD) then Jim? (Geoff Rothans mate), Geoff Rothan (owned Wooscrays TZD), Mark Smith (mds141), Jaba (john bale), Mat Fenwick, Mike Edmonds (Mike E), Phil Chidlow, Phil Boxall (kermit), Mike Sims and finally Hilary Stone.
1985 BX 19GT Mk1
1991 BX 19TZI Auto A/C
1994 Xantia 1.8i SX
1972 Morris Marina 1.8 SDL
1979 Rover SD1 V8-S
1980 Morris Marina 1.7HL
2002 Rover 75 CDTi Connossieur SE AUTO Nav
2002 Rover 45 1.6i Spirit S Special
2003 Rover 25 1.6i XL 5 DR
1963 VW BEETLE 1200

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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by Caffiend » Tue May 22, 2012 11:52 pm

Lovely write up, and marvellous pix.
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Tim Leech
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1980 Morris Marina 1.7HL DBV468W
1985 CITROEN BX 19GT C1TBX
1991 CITROEN BX 19TZI AUTO A/C BXi 19
1994 CITROEN XANTIA 1.8 SXi M908HRY
2002 Rover 75 CDT Connossieur SE Nav Auto R40TSL
2002 Rover 45 1.6i Spirt S TAL 91S
2003 Rover 25 1.6i XL L33CHT
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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by Tim Leech » Wed May 23, 2012 9:20 am

Indeed, I so wish I was still there....
1985 BX 19GT Mk1
1991 BX 19TZI Auto A/C
1994 Xantia 1.8i SX
1972 Morris Marina 1.8 SDL
1979 Rover SD1 V8-S
1980 Morris Marina 1.7HL
2002 Rover 75 CDTi Connossieur SE AUTO Nav
2002 Rover 45 1.6i Spirit S Special
2003 Rover 25 1.6i XL 5 DR
1963 VW BEETLE 1200

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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by mat_fenwick » Thu May 24, 2012 2:22 pm

Thanks for the comments.

Today (reminded by Tim's request for one) I turned my attention to the mirror switch. Although it operated both mirror fine, the bulbs inside failed last year, and I've only now got round to sorting them. Very simple to pop apart the switch, making sure not to lose any of the spring loaded contacts. I only had one similar bulb in stock, so I had to raid another from a spare switch I had. The obvious suggestion would be to use LEDs, but I don't have any small enough, and I suspect most easily available ones would be too directional as one bulb has to lay on its side within the switch.

Image

Back together with a smear of silicone grease on the contacts, and all should be well for a while.

Having then run out of things to actually fix, I decided to see what improvements I could make, always a more fun job. I'd got another bulb raided from a spare switch, so I decided to see whether I could make the electric window switches light up, as the same switches fitted to top spec XMs have bulbs in.

Image

A spot of fiddly soldering later, and it was in! You'll have to wait until night time for a shot of the finished article, if you can contain your excitement until then...
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1993 1.9 TZD Turbo Estate
2006 Renault Kangoo
1996 3.9 V8 Discovery
1993 VW LT35 campervan
1985 Hyundai Stellar V8
2004 MINI Cooper (hers)

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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by mat_fenwick » Thu May 24, 2012 10:34 pm

Image

I'm now wondering whether it would look better illuminated in green?
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1993 1.9 TZD Turbo Estate
2006 Renault Kangoo
1996 3.9 V8 Discovery
1993 VW LT35 campervan
1985 Hyundai Stellar V8
2004 MINI Cooper (hers)

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Re: Mat's BX Blog

Post by Mickey taker » Fri May 25, 2012 8:45 am

Mat you have far too much time on your hands [can I order three illuminated switches in green please ]
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light travels faster than sound, thats why you look intelligent and then you spoil it all by opening your mouth !!!!!