Clarissa's first real run

Sunday morning dawned clear with the flats in the valley below the house looking as if icing sugar had been sprinkled liberally over them. The temperature was definitely crisp. Breakfast was soon over and a picnic lunch was neatly packed away ready for Clarissa's first real run to meet her country cousins the Hudsons and Essexes in Te Aroha.

Dressed in a warm jacket with hat and gloves and cloaked in a hardy breed mentality there was no huddling under a ragtop, we were going to be travelling hood down. I started up and motored to Cobblestone Court Motel where I was to pick up Bernie O'Shannesy, a friend who is building a Railton DHC in Bendigo, Australia. With Bernie settled in and warmly clad, we were off.

As we reached open road speed we started to feel the crisp frosty air flowing over the top of the windscreen and rolling down behind us, under the seats and straight up sparsely cotton covered trousers to our nether regions. As Bernie was from Australia I was certainly not going to be the first to call quits and say it was too cold - Kiwis don't give in that easily. So on we went through the frosty landscape to Katikati until Bernie casually asked if the hood worked, because if it didn't then I was going to arrive with a corpse suffering from hypothermia. I couldn't have stopped the car faster. I had pinned my hope on the motor giving off sufficient heat to keep us warm but Phil Boyd had fixed the overheating problem and I couldn't get the temperature above 60 degrees! We tottered around on frozen feet and soon had the hood up. What a difference it made, instant warmth and a sense of wellbeing as we motored on to pick up Phil Boyd in Waihi.

Arriving at Waihi we were greeted by Phil's wife Ruby, bearing warm cups of coffee which soon restored our equilibrium. Restored and with Phil aboard we roared quietly out of the drive and headed off to Paeroa and Te Aroha. As you can imagine with a mechanic and an enthusiast building a Railton aboard, conversation turned to motors, wiring etc. We motored on through the Karagahape Gorge totally unsuspecting the drama about to happen.

With a sudden bang the hood flew back leaving three shocked guys wondering what had happened. Turning around I saw Phil in the back seat covered in shards of glass, eyes as big as saucers muttering, "What the hell was that?"

When I had fitted the hood originally there had been a small gap between the top of the windscreen and the rail. This let in a knife like draft and rain so the fix was a piece of rubber that would crush down and create a seal. Unfortunately, when I had shown Bernie that the hood did work, I hadn't pulled the rail down hard enough and the clamps had not located properly in their slot. The front portion of the hood had flown back and the rail had shattered the rear window. Apart from a bit of damage to the rails above the doors and the rear window we got off very lightly - what could have been a costly insurance claim ended up being a small repair job; we were very lucky.

After clearing glass out of the rear of the car and Phil's head we motored on, turning left at Paeroa and heading to Te Aroha. I had maintained a steady 50 - 55 mph and the car had performed without any problems, the temperature had reached 70-80 degrees and was steady so I decided that a little urgency on the long straights wouldn't be detrimental. At 75 mph I eased off, it was all too easy and quite exhilarating - can't wait until the summer when I can try it with the hood down!

We travelled on to the domain and met up with a multitude of Hudsons and Essexes just in time for the picnic lunch. The weather was still a little chilly but pleasant enough, so we went down to the picnic area with lunch boxes at the ready. One of the benefits of having a dietician for a wife is the quality of the picnic: full salads, yummy sauces and fresh buns - fabulous and enjoyed by Bernie, Phil and myself.

We were very interested in cars fitted with overdrive and were able to inspect one such car. We have an overdrive unit and are looking to install it at some future time. All in all it was a delightful day, with many friends and acquaintances renewed. I was able to relax and nod off in the back seat as Phil expertly drove us back to Waihi before Bernie and I headed home to Tauranga. The only negative was the economy of 13.9mpg, lower than I would have liked, but we had got rid of the flat spot in the carburettor. Must check the timing again. Maybe the overdrive will help.

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