1,500 road miles and one train journey later.
All journeys have but one beginning while some have several endings and others never end. This one may end up never ending. Here's a brief summary of what happened next.
The Sunday highlight of LMC was watching 5 well driven Morgan Plus 4s compete in the final event, Grid 3 for cars 1957-1961. If only our own little band of Morgans could achieve the same smoothness and reliability. After making our farewells to the Vinmog group (good to see you PeterG) and waiting for the rush to the exits to ease, we drove back to Chateau du Loir, turned in early and three of us departed next morning for our first overnight at Nuits St Georges in Burgundy, about 5 hours of wheel time away. Nico remains in France with the M3W visiting friends and family.
About an hour from our destination we pull into a fuel stop and lift the hoods on Martin's 4/4 to investigate a mis-fire. After adjusting the points and starting the motor we see fuel running from the under side of the fuel pump, right onto the starter motor. Martin has been been puzzled at his high fuel consumption so the mystery is now solved but the rectification is beyond us.
Malcolm also has need to lift the cowls on the Plus 4 as a rattly rattle was heard on pulling into the car park. The radiator fan is loose on the shaft and the bolts holding it in place have destroyed their threads. Both cars can no longer proceed under their own steam and are schlepped to a Renault dealer in the wonderful town of Semur en Auxois. There we are told that they might look at the cars "in one or two weeks." But we have to be at Feldkirch the following evening for the overnight car-train to Vienna, we protest. C'est ne pas possible.
Another garage is suggested and, before you can say pit-stop, the wonderful Christophe at Retropassion rides to the rescue, transporting both vehicles to his classic car hideaway in a barn in the nearby village of Saint-André-en-Terre-Plaine. By now it is evening and so we settle into a hotel in Semur and enjoy a great meal in the middle of this ancient city. Semur-en-Auxois, I discover, also has a lovely small airfield within walking distance of the centre and will become a destination on my next flight through France. Breakdowns can bring pleasant as well as unwanted surprises.
Next morning white Mog, the last Mog running, shuttles us to Christophe's barn (see pics) where, with a velvet glove, the news is delivered. The 4/4 requires both a new distributor and a new fuel pump. It will have to remain until the parts were sourced and that will take some time. The Plus 4 could be put back on the road for the trip to the train but really, says Christophe, it deserves a new water pump. At this point the most difficult decision of the journey is made. I will make a dash to the train, leaving immediately, while M & M will stay on and drive the Plus 4 back to Vienna when repairs are complete. This is not what we want, to break up the group, but it is the best compromise we can reach. I set off at 11:15 for the 5.5 hour run to Feldkirch; through SE France to Mulhouse, then the Swiss autobahns and tunnels to Liechtenstein and across the border for train loading at 21:45. Should be simple.
15 kms from Feldkirch, still in Swiss territory, I smell something suspicious; must be that truck in front. Thirty seconds later the cockpit is filling with smoke and I pull to the side of an off-lane, rip the fire extinguisher from its bracket, throw it out onto the grass and follow in some haste. Lifting the cowls it's obvious the source of heat and smoke is around the gearbox and as there are no flames I do not use the extinguisher but begin pouring all of my drinking water down the gear stick and hand-brake openings. There is much fizzing and steam but slowly the smoke clears. I drive on a kilometre and pull into a conveniently placed service station. The gearbox is hot again. My conclusion (my mental gears are not so hot) is that the box lacks oil but where did it go? Did two laps of Le Mans, wringing full revs in every gear, cause this? I don't know. Luckily the service station has gearbox oil so off comes the cover and in goes the oil, overflowing out onto the car park and causing a huge mess which must be cleaned.
Tempus fugit and train loading time is near. With all the care of a man milking a mouse white mog and me merge back onto the autobahn and delay traffic until we can turn off and trundle across the border into the railway station holding point. Loading is already underway but we have made it and the gearbox feels ok, although I am certain it has suffered severe internal trauma. The train journey is smooth and unusually I sleep well and drive off in Vienna at 0800 and ask the Mog for one more favour, a photo op in front of Flanagans, the pub where four of us had set off 9 days earlier. I wish like hell that the others were there with me.
What was happening back in rural Burgundy? Malcolm's veteran Plus 4 was repaired and eventually they set off, hoping to find a place on the Wednesday night train back to Vienna. Aaahhhh, the Malvern malfeasance was not finished with them. Not long after leaving Retropassion the water pump says non! It just splits. Another schlep back to Christophe follows and another night in Semur. As I write Martin and Malcolm are on a train back to Vienna and both Morgans will remain with Retropassion until they can be repatriated to Vienna. This will be taken care of by the excellent Austrian Automobile Club the ÖAMTC.
Will we do this again? You bet. See you for the Le Mans Centenary LMC in 2023.
Breakfast at Vinmog in the club zone on the Bugatti circuit - Nico, Malcolm and Martin
A front row parking spot
Oh yes, sunrise over the Dunlop bridge, chasing Red Dragon, the mog up ahead. Ok, he was pulling away from me.
But I did get past this annoying 356
C'est ne pas normal! Says Christophe. Martin says something unprintable in either language
A big sigh, back at Flanagan's but without her mates, the Morgan formerly known as TWP.