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Lucie: The vehicle

May 2009. Part 1 of 2

Lucie has had a busy time this month, and a couple of mishaps.. Geoff and I spent another two busy days to finish converting a trailer I purchased off ebay.  Originally it was used for carrying a Ford Escort Rally car though when it was finished it was a trailer for Lucie.  Geoff extended the trailer by about 10” so that he could add a lift up tail gate at the back that would act as a ramp.  He spent many hours reenforcing the centre of the trailer (for the front wheel) and it took a day alone just to create the tail gate (due to the amount of welds) with outer edges and a centre wheel guide.  Whilst Geoff did all the hard bits welding, cutting and the wiring for the lights, I did the easy bits like cutting holes in the floor and bolting in anchors for the ratchet straps and changing the front wheel arches. 

The trailer’s first test was to the Reliant Owner’s Nottingham rally  on Saturday 2nd.  I drove Lucie straight onto the trailer, strapped her down and she didn’t move an inch for the whole 72 mile trip from Tamworth to Nottingham and the trailer pulled perfectly.  Once we arrived,  I drove her off the trailer, and pitched up the tent whilst Lucie joined the other Reliants for a weekend of fun and for the first time, I put an information board about her on display. 

The first incident happened on Sunday morning.  The wind was seriously strong and as I opened the van door, the wind snatched it from my fingers and pushed it back.  I heard a crack of fibreglass and luckily managed to capture the door before it went right back and hit the wing.  Thankfully it has a strap and where the strap bolts to the door was strained so removing the inner panel and adding a bit of fibreglass, it should be fine.  Outwardly there is no damage, just a slight crack at the edge of the door.

All was well until later that day. At the back of the trailer are two legs that drop down.  When I loaded and unloaded Lucie the first time I did not touch them though for reasons only known to my self, before loading the car I dropped them down.  Unbeknown to me, this actually increased the angle of the ramp as with the legs up, the back end would lower slightly.  As a result I had to give the car more power to drive up the ramp and as the grass was wet, the back end slid slightly to the left causing the tailgate post to catch Lucie’s door.  Luckily Caroline and Pete were watching out and as soon as it happened Pete lifted the body away from the post as I reversed and with the exception of a small scratch, no damage was done ... not yet anyway.

I then repositioned myself again and drove up the ramp. this time I was square on though I heard a clunk and then suddenly Lucie sounded like a tractor.  I drove her the rest of the way onto the trailer then switched off and looked under the car.  Having the legs down had meant that as the angle was steeper which caused the silencer to ground at the rear of the trailer.  This resulted in the exhaust being pulled out of the flange where it bolts to the manifold.  They say things come in threes so I guess that was my three incidents.

Back at home I marked where I though the exhaust should be on the flange, removed the exhaust and then unloaded the car from the trailer using the winch and pushed her into the garage.  The day after I went to visit Geoff who was busy with Pete taking apart Snoopy’s engine.

Using the marks I made, Geoff welded the exhaust back up and I came home and tried to fit the exhaust.  I had marked it in the wrong place and as a result the silencer hit the gearbox.  So, grabbing a hack saw, I sawed off the flange leaving about 2 inches of pipe on it then bolted the flange to the manifold and attached the silencer at the rear of the car.  I then held the exhaust pipe up to the flange and this time marked it several times.  I then went back over to Geoff who very patiently welded it up again.

This time when I arrived back at the garage it fitted perfectly, and so with a NOS exhaust gasket, I bolted everything back together and took the car for a spin.

I did noticed that when I decelerated there was a a sucking sound as though air was being sucked in and so looking at the carburettor I noticed it had a fine layer of oil.  A couple of months ago, I cleaned the air filter washing it in petrol and then soaking it in oil.  Despite draining it at the time, oil had lubricated where the air filter fixes on causing it to move and suck in additional air.  Once I took it off, removed all the surplus oil and refitted it, the air filter was airtight at the join and the sound had gone.

Go to Part 2


Lucie’s first trip on her new transporter. (Click image to see a video of her driving off the trailer, my thanks to Kev Hallett for the video).

Lucie at the Reliant Owners Club Nottingham rally

The flange pulled away from the exhaust..

Information board about Lucie. Click image for a larger copy.


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