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Drive It Day 2011


Each year the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) promotes Drive It Day. The idea is to get as many historic and classic vehicles as possible out on the road and seen by the public. Normally this is organised for the Sunday closest to St. George's Day, but this year that would be Easter Sunday, when all and sundry have other commitments, so it was moved to the weekend before Easter.

Many motoring clubs organised tours or gatherings, and we noticed that the Lancashire Automobile Club had a tour of the Ribble valley organised. All vehicles were welcome, irrespective of club membership. The tour would be more than 60 miles and take in 20 villages around the valley of the Ribble, and some wonderful scenery. A real bonus was the weather forecast, which promised dry, sunny weather. This also meant that more members of the general public would be out and about, looking at all the classic cars.

RA3910 is not easy to drive up and down hills, but it is particularly good for travelling slowly and looking at scenery. The high seating position means you have a great view, and can see over hedges, which is very useful when modern traffic approaches. You see their roof beyond a hedge, while they can't see anything.

We decided that we would at least start the run and maybe turn back when the hills got the better of us. So we set off to the meeting point at Mitton Hall, near Whalley.

Drive-It Day 2011

The car park was almost full when we arrived, but we were squeezed in and directed to the signing on point. A Rally Plate was provided, and a St. George's flag was acquired to adorn the Daimler (I know that there are some in the garage somewhere...). Coffee and a decent bacon butty were also on tap. A photographer from Lancashire Life was on hand, taking shots of anything and anyone interesting. He was found a seat in an E-type Jaguar so he could enjoy the run too.

The run was extremely well organised, even having a "sweeper car" to aid anyone who broke down or was lost. Maximum speeds were decreed - 20mph through villages, 30mph on the open road. After all it is not a race, it's an opportunity to let the public see some wonderful vehicles. There were more participants than would fit in Mitton Hall's car park, so some set out earlier than the scheduled 11:00 in order to make room. In all there were 109 historic and classic vehicles on show.

The Daimler performed well, and I learned better how to deal with hills, even coping with some very steep ones. When going up a hill, the engine has plenty of power available, as long as there is fuel to feed it. Therein lies the problem, because the fuel pump is vacuum-driven.

While running along the flat, the vacuum produced in the inlet manifold is used to suck fuel from the tank into the Autovac. This serves as a reservoir from which the petrol flows under gravity to the carburettor.

When climbing hills in high gear, though the engine can cope with the load, the vacuum is not great, and the petrol supply eventually dries up. On one occasion I have been left with an empty carburettor and empty Autovac in an awkward position, and had to refill the float chamber from a small bottle we keep handy. With a little thought, though, I have found ways to avoid this embarrassment. Either (a) climb the hill in a lower gear, so that the engine runs at a higher speed, thus increasing the vacuum, or (b) drop the clutch occasionally and let the engine speed up for a while, thus improving fuel flow.

Much to my surprise, these skills - aquired en route - allowed me to drive all the way round the course, including the long hill heading east from Slaidburn, complete with its hairpin bend. It's hard on the arm muscles without the benefit of power steering, but no problem for the engine. We missed a few turnings on the way round, but still managed to find our way to all the villages.

On return to Mitton Hall, we spent much time discussing cars with other enthusiasts, and were invited to participate in future events.

A very enjoyable day.