Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Tell us your ongoing tales and experiences with your French car here. Post pictures of your car here as well.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by van ordinaire » 07 Feb 2019, 23:23

Of course cars don't get more micro than the Peel - & there's a firm, supposedly, developing an electric one, now THAT could be quite interesting.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 08 Feb 2019, 03:20

van ordinaire wrote:
07 Feb 2019, 23:23
Of course cars don't get more micro than the Peel - & there's a firm, supposedly, developing an electric one, now THAT could be quite interesting.


I have sat in a Peel P50, and remember wondering how on earth it could be road legal. Felt like someone have dropped a glass fibre box on top of a lawn mower. I know they're light, so stuff doesn't need to be hugely strong - but even so, the suspension looks like it would disintegrate the first time you clipped a pothole...never driven one though, and that one had apparently been driven 40 miles or so to the show. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I'm more curious to see how other microcars drive now I'll have a yardstick to compare them to of my own.

Generally though, for all the Invacar seems crude compared to most normally sized cars with any number of wheels, it seems positively sophisticated in comparison to many microcars I think...though that's purely a largely uneducated assumption based on very limited experience. So far anyway.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Hell Razor5543 » 08 Feb 2019, 17:22

There was an episode of Top Gear when Jeremy Clarkson drove around London (and the BBC Television Centre) in a Peel P50. Yes, he could (just) fit in it!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Gibbo2286 » 08 Feb 2019, 19:48

Hell Razor5543 wrote:
08 Feb 2019, 17:22
There was an episode of Top Gear when Jeremy Clarkson drove around London (and the BBC Television Centre) in a Peel P50. Yes, he could (just) fit in it!

Last edited by myglaren on 08 Feb 2019, 20:30, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: YouTube link

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 08 Feb 2019, 23:50

Having finally got the fuel tank installed and piped up (note to self: if you take it out again, connect the fuel line to the tank BEFORE installing it), there was only one thing left to do.
IMG_20190208_155656.jpg
The following photos of a very damp Invacar demonstrate quite an important milestone.
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IMG_20190208_174837.jpg
This is for the first time in probably a couple of decades, running entirely on internal power and fuel. No fuel cans balanced on the engine cover, no borrowed battery, it's got a full tank of fuel and is ready to drive.

Now it's been blowing a gale and tipping it down all day here... exactly the sort of conditions you *don't* want during the first test run of an extremely small three wheeler with questionable stability and laughably poor weatherproofing. So I really should have waited until the weekend.

Yeah...we all knew that wasn't going to happen didn't we?



Apologies for the quality - the phone was just wedged behind the heater/choke cables and it was getting dark, so it was the best I could do.

Stuff that's dropped out of this test run:

[] CVT Belt needs tightened up (hence it failing to "change up" as the speed picks up.

[] Brakes need readjusted now she's left the drive - quite a bit of free play now, whereas there was hardly any before we left the drive. The nearside rear is dragging a bit too - though far less so after the run than before.

[] Weatherproofing needs to be made to exist at all...It's truly comical how many places water gets in.

[] Demister is essentially useless. There just isn't enough airflow to do anything meaningful...Methinks a booster fan will be getting added to that.

Pretty much exactly the sort of result I was expecting and hoping for to be honest.

Will get the CVT belt and the brakes adjusted, then we'll do another run at the weekend.

I see what folks have been saying about the steering, it is VERY direct...definitely requires a bit of skill to drive smoothly.

Bottom line though: She lives!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by daviemck2006 » 09 Feb 2019, 01:36

Great to see it resurrected!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by CitroJim » 09 Feb 2019, 08:25

Fantastic Zel :D Progress has been meteoric on the project :D

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 09 Feb 2019, 20:55

Today on "coceptually simple tasks that are actually an absolute pain in the tail" we have adjusting the CVT belt on an Invacar.

Sequence of what you need to do is:

[] Loosen the final drive chaincase pivot bolt.
[] Loosen off the nuts on the threaded bit of the adjuster so there's some free play.
[] Loosen the three nuts around the final drive input shaft.
[] Wind the adjuster in the correct direction until the belt tension seems reasonable.
[] Tighten all of the above back up.

Here's the fasteners you need to loosen off, looks nice and simple from the diagram in the manual!
20190209_204642.jpg
What this doesn't take into account is that you can only see one of the three nuts around the final drive input that you need to loosen off. So two of them need to be done blind, and that no matter which way you go in there is stuff in the way. Now I know where they are it will be a bit less of a pain next time, but the first time when you only know vaguely where they are it's an exercise in extreme frustration.

What would have made life slightly easier would have been to get the protective cage around the pulleys off, however this is utterly disinterested in the idea of moving after 43 years. I gave up trying to remove the retaining bolts when the spanner started to bend.

Tension now seems a lot more reasonable...There's no obvious "slop" in there now, and you can still just about make it slip with the handbrake on by hand, but it's a case of "Just about" now rather than easy.

By the time I eventually got things back together it was too late to faff around moving the clutchless wonder that is the van out the way for a test run. I'll see about that tommorrow.

Note to self: Sort the clutch in the van already. Meant to check on the price for the master cylinder when I was driving past the dealer today but totally forgot.

I did a bit more work on the rear bumper framework earlier in the afternoon. I think this is as far as the metalwork will go, should be a decent base that I can start to build up the glass fibre around.
IMG_20190209_153056.jpg
Based on the noticed behaviour during the road test yesterday I made some more brake adjustments. The offside needed to be nipped up a bit more, whereas the nearside had something like three complete turns taken off the adjuster. Will check tomorrow to see if that's helped things out.

I can't help but wonder if I'll notice any real improvement if I were to simply get out onto a slightly faster road and to get the drive belts to cover the full range of their travel a few occasions to clean up the pulley faces.

Hopefully time will permit some further tinkering tomorrow.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 11 Feb 2019, 00:46

Having got the belts adjusted (after much swearing) yesterday I wanted to take the Invacar out for another quick test today.

This didn't start great as I discovered that the clutch in the van had decided over night to go from "somewhat dodgy" to "non existant." Now, I might be willing to try shuffling a small car around the drive with no clutch, but trying to move something that big with as many blind spots without a clutch just seemed to be a disaster waiting to happen. Especially given that there's a good second or so delay between turning the ignition off and the engine actually stopping!

The whole master cylinder failing right after the slave cylinder just seemed a bit odd to me. I know the slave had failed because overnight at one point it dumped all the fluid on the ground under the van...no questions there. Seemed distinctly odd to me though that the master would fail so nearly simulteneously. What I did remember though was that the fluid in there when I got it was absolutely rank - it looked like strong black coffee. I had a sneaking feeling that it might have wound up ingesting some of the crud that was inevitably floating around in the bottom of the reservoir when the fluid all leaked out.

So then...let's go stand on our head for ten minutes and get the master cylinder out.
IMG_20190210_171534.jpg
This would have been far easier if the driver's door wasn't jammed up against the hedge meaning I had to do everything from the other side of the cab. Neverthless, didn't take me long once I figured out how to get the split pin holding the pushrod onto the pedal out. I reckon I wasted about twenty minutes on that.

Initially when I got the master cylinder off it was utterly disinterested in holding pressure. Blocking the outlet and pushing the actuating rod in simply resulted in it making strange burping noises from the fluid inlet. After flushing and working through copeous amounts of brake cleaner though it seems to have come good. Reassembling it and bleeding things through has resulted in a working clutch. In fact a working clutch with the bite point at a far more sensible point than it has been as long as I've had the van. It had always been quite low before.

Right...After wasting probably an hour and a half and most of my daylight I could finally move the van so I could get the Invacar out of the garage.

I wasn't going to let that spoil my fun.
IMG_20190210_173439.jpg
Yes, I need to find the little metal shield that goes on the number plate light. It's in a box somewhere.

Initial tests show that the drive system seems to be behaving better. I still reckon it may be letting the engine rev a little higher than normal, but it's one of those things that I've only given it such a brief test at this point that it's hard to say. I think I'm going to have to take a brave pill and take her out onto a 60mph road and open the throttle and see what happens. Yesterday though it felt like getting to 30 was a chore, whereas I had to back off the throttle to stay within the speed limit today - so definitely a step in the right direction. As mentioned before, I'm curious to see whether just getting the belt and pulleys cleaned up through a bit of use may make a difference.

In terms of use helping though, the brakes seem to be a lot better for it. There's still a bit more dead travel in the "pedal" before you get brakes than I'd maybe like, but they seem to have really good bite now. It's possible to lock all three wheels in an emergency stop, and the handbrake is more than capable of locking the rear wheels - I really wanted to check that as it's obviously your only backup in the event of a hydraulic braking system failure. The brakes when I took it out the first time felt quite wooden even though they did stop you, but they're definitely better now.

There's quite an important milestone visible here...
IMG_20190210_173448.jpg
Maybe if you look closer...
IMG_20190210_180031.jpg
Yep...For the first time since 2001 the odometer has moved. She's done a whole two miles now, and I hope to add to that again tomorrow.

The only recurring gremlin I've found again has been the oil leak from the dipstick.
IMG_20190210_173321.jpg
This absolutely refuses to seal. I've tried to braze it up four times now. I think the issue is that I can't totally clear the residue from where the oil has been. Given that new dipsticks are available for £13, I'm just going to include that in the order I'll be putting through for engine bits shortly. I've already wasted a couple of hours trying to sort it.

I think the plan for tomorrow is to visually tidy the rear bodywork up a bit, maybe try to scrub some of the undergrowth off the driver's door, then go do a higher speed run down to the nearest roundabout and back. I'm seriously tempted if that doesn't result in anything terrifying happening, to take her to one of the nearby supermarkets...Yes, photos will happen if that does.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by CitroJim » 11 Feb 2019, 07:14

Fantastic Zel :D Really enjoying reading your blog... It is quite excellent :D

Keep up the good work ;)

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 12 Feb 2019, 00:24

Task number one for today was to get the offside brake light working again as I noticed yesterday when I got back into the garage that it was out again. This eventually turned into a 45 minute round of chasing my own tail before re-terminating the main ground for the cluster as I should have done in the first place - which of course immediately resolved the issue and also got both sets of indicators to flash at the same rate for the first time.

Task number two was to cover up some of the bare metalwork on the rear of the car. This has wound up with the whole thing encased in duct tape for now, looks horrific, but at least there are now no sharp edges accessible. I'm sure a bunch of these cars were largely held together by gaffer tape back in the day too.
IMG_20190211_181558.jpg
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No, I'm not proud of it. It's a means to an end - I want to drive the thing, and don't want to wait until I can put aside a couple of complete afternoons with decent weather to attack it with fibreglass.

The offside front corner has had a steel band added to reinforce it, and has been similarly plastered in tape. I've also stuck a patch on the hole in the roof primarily to assist in keeping the weather out.

Speaking of keeping things in or out, I'm glad to see that the lock on the front service cover has freed up after a couple of months of regularly dosing it with penetrating fluid.
IMG_20190211_181650.jpg
Nice the way stuff seems to keep coming back to life.

With this all done it was time to go for today's test run. After a little noodling around our estate again I decided that it was time to try the higher speed run. No horrors to report. Managed to get up to just under 50mph before having to brake for the roundabout at the bottom of the hill. On the way back progress was slowed a bit, but still got up to 40 or thereabouts. The only slightly unnerving aspect was that she briefly decided not to give me any power when I intitally went to pull onto the roundabout coming back - a fraction of a second's delay and audible pop back through the carb and she was off again. I've notice this happen a few times on roughly half throttle. Guessing there's still a bit of crud floating around in the carb.

On arriving back from that run (wanting to give thigns a check over given it was the first time she had exceeded 30mph in quite a while), there was quite an odd "hot" smell - which I reckon was coming from the paint on the silencer after a bit of checking. The popping back through the carb I reckon is the reason that the carb itself was damp with fuel.
IMG_20190211_160752.jpg
The carb being cold I think was the only reason this hadn't evaporated pretty much as soon as it had ended up there. I'll keep an eye on this. As soon as an stopped the engine and the carb started to warm up it evaporated. This seems to be something these cars are quite prone to. I did note the air cleaner wasn't tightly bolted on, I've corrected that now.

I then went about a little further local testing, getting a little more used to the controls meant that a certain degree of mild hooning may have taken place. It's a long while since I was last in a Reliant, but to my mind this definitely feels less tippy when you throw it into a corner or roundabout.

I did attempt to get some video footage of the test drives - but managed an epic fail today on a video front. Attempt number one went just fine until the first roundabout was taken at any speed...at which point the phone fell out of where I'd wedged it. Attempt number two would have been fine if the phone hadn't wound up pointed mostly at the ceiling. I'm going to try to dig out the Not-A-Go-Pro tomorrow and use that instead as it at least has some proper options to secure it to the car. If you guys want me to upload the video I do have just let me know...You can kind of see what's going on and have the audio to go with it.

So, stuff I've ascertained today:

[] Oil leak from dipstick might be fixed.
[] The grounding arrangements in these tail lights is epically rubbish. I may wind up improving this myself to save me trouble in the long run.
[] Handling is better than I expected. I reckon you could actually chuck this car around quite a bit once you're used to it.
[] On the same topic, the suspension and steering feels really tight. No knocks, clonks or obvious play in anything like that.
[] Ride is pleasantly compliant, bit of a surprise given how light she is.
[] One horrible noise which has turned up a couple of times is the guard touching one of the pulleys very lightly - mainly just as you come off the throttle. I will sort this using a small amount of violence shortly. I know what it is though and it sounds way worse than it actually is.
[] 50mph looks to be doable without too much trouble.
[] Occasional miss/backfire on part throttle needs an eye kept on it.

I needed to go to the nearest supermarket for one or two things this afternoon and very nearly took the Invacar...Sadly I chickend out. Maybe tomorrow.

Definitely overall seems to be running better. The drive system seems to be behaving itself pretty much as I'd expect now, I think the biggest thing which initially was throwing me off is just the level of overall noise involved with the engine running at the speed it needs to for the clutch to engage. Was really glad to see that once up to speed that there weren't any unpleasant noises or vibration which would suggest duff wheel bearings or any boring problems like that needing attention.

Overall though, not bad for such an early shakedown run. The biggest thing now is just trying to get a bit of confidence in the vehicle before trying to actually go somewhere. It's a bit of a shame that MK doesn't have anything between sleepy residential streets and busy distributor roads...makes shakedown a bit awkward!

I'm really pleasantly surprised by how chuckable she seems to be and how compliant the ride is. Must be those fancy adjustable Spax gas shocks!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by CitroJim » 12 Feb 2019, 06:55

Zel, awesome 💪👍😄👏

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Michel » 12 Feb 2019, 07:52

This is a brilliant blog Zel, I'm really enjoying it. Thanks for taking us on this adventure with you!

Get some Silkolene Pro FST fuel treatment. It'll clean your carbs out. It's one of the few that work properly and is popular in the biking community as it is also a fuel stabiliser, and prevents carb icing.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 12 Feb 2019, 12:36

Michel wrote:
12 Feb 2019, 07:52
Get some Silkolene Pro FST fuel treatment. It'll clean your carbs out. It's one of the few that work properly and is popular in the biking community as it is also a fuel stabiliser, and prevents carb icing.


Thanks for that, will pick some up.

From what I'm reading it seems that the occasional "sneeze" from the carb may just be a quick of this particular engine and carb combination.

Will be doing a bit of further testing this afternoon hopefully.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 13 Feb 2019, 00:55

Today has been something of a "one step forward, a few hops sideways, and one backward." We knew there were going to be some of them, that's the whole reason we're doing the VERY local shakedown runs. Which I'm sure are really annoying my neighbours by now.

First up, I did managed to track down the Not-A-Go-Pro and do a test with that stuck to the rear window. Annoyingly, while the video is better than I've managed from my phone - the microphone really didn't enjoy such close proximity to 493cc of thundering power behind the driver's seat in the Invacar, so I must apologise for the horrible audio distortion.



This really does seem to make the ride seem a lot firmer than it feels in person, but better captures the degree of lean when cornering. At least around town you don't really notice the lack of a wheel up front. Until you come to park up at a kerb...the lack of a bump from the nearside front corner the first time I pulled over at the side of the road, *that* messed with my head.

I hadn't spotted until viewing that video that the nearside indicators seem to be playing funny business again...Yay...Those tail lights are going to be a recurring problem aren't they...

The free play in the brakes looks way worse in the video than it feels in person, I think the angle and the lens exagerrates it a bit. There's a good 2" of clearance between the point at which I can lock all three wheels and the bars hitting my knees. I managed to get the single carriageway down the side of our neighbourhood clear a couple of times today, so was able to do an emergency stop from 50mph, and am pleased to say that she can come to a stop more than adequately rapidly when needed.

When I got back from that run, with an even five miles on the clock I decided to check the condition of the plugs just to give me an idea how the engine was running. It's worth noting that the one in the offside cylinder has always had a history of flooding quite regularly on startup, and had always been sooty when the car had just been idling on the driveway. This is how it looked today.
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Here's the partner from the other cylinder.
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Not bad at all I reckon, though obviously it's hard to tell too much from so few miles. No obviously catastrophic oil contamination or anything like that at least.

Today did unearth a few gremlins though.

[] Fuelling. It seemed today that after I'd been going for roughly 30 minutes (including three higher speed runs), I started to experience what felt like severe fuel starvation. Thankfully I was able to limp back home. This definitely shows why I'm doing things this way though, for all it might seem needlessly over-cautious to some folks.

I'm pretty sure that this problem is due to a problem with the fuel pump itself.

Looking at the fuel filter in the engine bay (between the fuel pump and the carb) you can see bubbles of air being pumped through along with the fuel. This is an absolute pain to try to catch visibly on camera.



A problem on the suction side of the pump really is the only cause I can see for this. The line from the pump to the tank is a single piece of new hose, and attaches to the bottom of the (full) fuel tank. I'd have expected any holes in the line to have therefore made themselves known by leaking fuel out overnight as there should be a decent head of pressure there. Top of the fuel tank is roughly level with the top of the carb.

Obvious question: Is there a vacuum issue due to venting problems? Nope...The cap is vented - and in fact the cap wasn't even on the tank when that video was snapped.

A rebuild kit is avalable for the fuel pump...so I think that will be my next stop.

I think a gasket set for the carb probably makes sense too...
IMG_20190212_154948.jpg
[] Gearchange linkage fell off!

As I limped into the driveway on one-and-a-bit cylinders due to the fuel starvation issues, I applied the handbrake then suddenly found that my right hand couldn't find the gear lever for some reason.
IMG_20190212_154011.jpg
Oh. That doesn't look right! Sure enough, pulling the rear service hatch out and standing on my head showed that the connection between the lever and the actual gear selector had come apart. Nice and "easy" to get at...
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You may recall when I took this out of KP I was unable to extract the split pin from this linkage, so I'd put it together with a bolt and lock nut. Obviously this isn't up to dealing with the vibration etc, so I'll need to find a better solution. In the meantime I'll make up a new locknut and apply some threadlock to hopefully keep things together in the meantime. A long enough bolt to fit this position definitely needs to remain in the vehicle toolkit though!

It was nice to see that the pulleys do seem to be cleaning themselves up quite nicely though simply through a bit of use, and that the belt tension seemed to have remained exactly as I left it when I adjusted it.
IMG_20190212_154933.jpg
While there's still some oxide left there visible, the surface itself feels far, far smoother than it used to. I did wonder if I should put more work into cleaning this lot up - but given that the drive system seems to be generally behaving itself I'm inclined to leave it alone for now.

[] Gearbox oil leak.

When reattaching the gear linkage it was hard to miss the fact that there was quite an obvious leak of gearbox oil from the top cover.
IMG_20190212_155330.jpg
This wasn't a huge surprise to me given that the box was found essentially caked in a 1/2" thick crust of gearbox oil mixed with mud - what was a surprise what that all four of the nuts were barely finger tight...Let's hope that having nipped them up has sorted that. Failing that I don't think the cover holds anything in, so shouldn't be too hard to make up a new paper gasket if necessary.

Before I went out today though I set about trying to do something to make her look a bit less like a set piece from some post apocalyptic disaster movie, this basically meant trying to shift some of the moss and grime.

Attacking the doors with a stiff scrubbing brush and caravan & motorhome cleaner did a pretty decent job.
IMG_20190212_143014.jpg
IMG_20190212_170130.jpg
There is still some discolouration which I'll need to hit with some cutting paste, but at least it looks *slightly* less like it's just been dragged out of a field now.

I think thinks will probably need to take a back seat for a few days until I can get the parts for the fuel pump in. Sadly I don't have a suitable alternative pump, electric or otherwise, laying around or I'd test by substitution first. Obviously I can't really keep driving with a known fuelling issue.

What I might do is hook up the fuel injection pump I've got laying around drawing from the carb end and dumping back to tank - the flow level that should get going might allow me to use my eyes and ears to track down where the leak actually is as I'll probably be able to hear it hissing.

Annoyingly I'll most likely have to drain the tank down if I do need to dismantle the system...Methinks a fuel tap right at the tank might be a sensible upgrade...

Will take the opportunity to readjust the brakes again - I have my suspicions that the front adjuster isn't doing its job, so may well swap it for a known good spare and see if that helps. As I've said before, the brakes feel really good. Nice firm control and good bite, just a lot of dead travel before you get to the point that the control does anything.

Would have been nice to get a clean bill of health and just start driving places (as I'm getting quite comfortable with the actual act of piloting her now), but realistically we knew there were going to be things that would turn up and need sorting didn't we.