Tuesday, December 7, 2010

AROCA observation drive

On Sunday Kylie and I took the Ricciardi on an Alfa club observation drive. Rendezvoused at Campbellfield at 9am, and and headed off into a fairly grey and misty morning.

It was a fairly small group in the end - the Ricciardi, a very nice Guilia Super, a 156, a fwd GTV, a very rorty sounding Sud Sprint track car, and a Subaru Impreza (standing in for the owner's 105).

I was keen to see how the car felt on a longer drive, especially with the new wheels and tyres. The route was great, and the observation component was a lot of fun, although communications are very difficult in a loud open top car at speed, and we did miss a couple of the clues.

The car was fairly good to start with, although the handling issues were clearly still there. The new wheel/tyre combo does give better feel, and the car felt more planted. The engine pulled well, although I'm a little concerned that the oil pressure isn't as good as it could be.

I think putting the LR shock back to the previous setting did improve things - hopefully the rear shocks were set more or less at the same level of rebound. Over the course of the morning the handling did get worse though, making driving a little tricky. Initially it was just a matter of gently accelerating into left hand corners, and trailing the throttle into right handers. After a while, though, the car was twitching quite badly even on gentle gear changes. This does tend to back up my initial impression that something was wrong at the back, but it's unlikely to be the shocks - almost certainly the rear axle is moving around, in response both to engine torque and to bumps. That suggests rear trailing arm bushes. It doesn't seem to move side to side, though, so hopefully the trunnion bushes are ok.

I called up Hugh first thing yesterday and the car is booked in for Thursday to get the bushes sorted and double check the rest of the suspension now that it's had a good workout. I'll also get him to check the rear shocks and make sure they're set fully soft. The back of the car is not handling consecutive bumps all that well, suggesting the suspension is not returning from the first bump quickly enough and either rebound is too high, or spring strength or bump is too low.

Overall we traveled a bit over 200km (with one stop of about 20 minutes), which was a good long drive. Both Kylie and I were perfectly comfortable at the end of the trip, a good endorsement both for the seats and for the ride quality.

Note dead main gauges

It was really good to be involved in a club event after so many years, and to meet other enthusiastic Alfa people. Everyone was very friendly, and very positive about the Ricciardi. Looking forward to more events!

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