Monday, December 20, 2010

A cold gray day...

Today was the first day of my summer holidays, and the designated activities were to finish modifying my Logitech gaming pedals, adjust the throw of the clutch on the Ricciardi, and take the Ricciardi for a decent thrash on a twisty road. Well, two out of three isn't bad...

First up was to get parts for the Logitech pedals (one $5 pair of thongs, as a source of foam rubber). Next was the clutch. However, unpacking my tool box at the storage place I realised I'd forgotten the torch. The light isn't the best there, and lying upside down in the footwell I couldn't see well enough to measure the pushrod length. The clutch will have to wait.

The weather isn't the best at the moment. The hour by hour forecast basically showed a chance of rain at any given time during the day, but I wanted to see what the new tyres are like in the wet.

The intention was to replay the Kinglake drive of a fortnight ago, but I wasn't sure I could remember the various turns we took to get out of Melbourne. In the end it wasn't a problem, and I managed to follow the exact route (with two short pauses - one to fish two spanners out of the footwell before they fouled a pedal, and another for a breath test. The constables thought I was mad to be driving an open top car on such a cold day).

Late morning traffic and some roadworks made the going a little slower, but I didn't really mind. The traffic eventually faded away, and once we got onto the sweeping curves I was on my own. At this point I fished out the plastic safety glasses I'd brought along to trial as makeshift goggles - I've not yet found a set of goggles that really works. At speed the car felt much better than last time I'd passed this way, but with lots of damp patches on the road I was inclined to be cautious. Grip was good, but it's still hard to feel what the car wants to do.

Up above Kinglake it got really, really cold - so cold that the water temp gauge dropped 10 degrees. I've also noticed that the car has been slow to warm up, so time to add the thermostat to the list of things to check. The rain stayed away until the run down into the town, by which time I was cold enough to want a warm fire and a meal, so I pulled in at the pub to sit the rain shower out.

Outside the Kinglake pub

The pub had a fire going (it really was that cold!), and after a hot meal at a table near the hearth I was ready to brave the elements again.

Down the hill toward Diamond Creek the car felt really good. The Falkens hung on remarkably well, and I started to get more confidence in the car. The engine was appreciating the colder air, pulling hard out of the corners and responding instantly to the throttle. The limiting factor was again the driver, in this case not fast and smooth enough with the wheel and pedals when the corners are close together. The cockpit is a fairly tight squeeze for someone my size, and all the movements have to be carefully orchestrated if I'm not to jam a leg under the wheel jumping between brake and throttle, or bang an elbow searching for extra lock. Less haste, more speed, as my old fencing master used to say... More practice required!

The rest of the drive was uneventful, although I needed the auxiliary fan once we hit the suburban traffic again. Definitely checking that thermostat before the next drive...

The safety glasses made great goggles - stayed clear in the damp air, and allow really good peripheral vision. Have to try them at night, but I might finally have found goggles that work.

Oh, and the pedal mod seemed to work - the Logitech brake feels much more like a brake with a piece of heavy foam fitted inside the spring.

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