June 16th : High Summer

We’d planned a Scottish tour for the end of March / early April to visit the Isle of Skye and drive the western part of the North Coast 500 that we hadn’t been able to do last year.

Our intention had been to stopover at Johnstone, to the west of Glasgow, then drive through Glencoe, Portree, Torridon, Ullapool and Lochinver to Tongue on Scotland’s north coast before returning via Port Augustus and Helensburgh. The trip couldn’t go ahead due to the Coronavirus pandemic but in preparedness I’d booked Riley Blue in to Steve Mckie for its annual service. I also asked Steve about having a sump guard made and fitted as I’d managed to crack two in the previous year and a half. Fortunately on each occasion there’d been no loss of oil until after I’d parked the car in its garage and the engine had cooled, lucky eh? However, I’d used up my supply of spare sumps and further replacements were harder to find; time to switch to Plan B – a sump guard.

Some time back a fellow enthusiast had sent me a photo of the original Riley works rally One-Point-Five’s sump guard (circled in red below) and Steve reckoned it would be a fairly easy job to fabricate one.

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Fixing it to the car might not be so easy. Four bolts attach it to the bottom of the chassis legs but the chassis legs are hollow box sections, impossible to access to insert a nut into which to screw the bolts – unless, that is, you have a cunning plan which Steve has but more about that later.

The weeks passed. We were locked down, Steve was locked down; it seemed that time had frozen. We’d managed to obtain refunds of all the deposits we’d paid for our accommodation in Scotland and vowed to pick up where we’d left off but in twelve months time. For now we’d be able to do all those little jobs we had never quite got around to: landscaping the garden (front and rear), decorating the bathroom and kitchen, have the boiler replaced, hanging all the pictures, posters and photographs we’d accumulated over the years – except that Gael was working from home so that mean me, I’d be able to do all those jobs.

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