Connecticut British Reliability Run another Success!
The 2021 British Reliability Run is now in the books! Abingdon Spares is a sponsor and promoter of the run, but this year, unfortunately we were not able to participate in the actual run.
Here is the complete review of the run, written by my friend Neville Wardle. Neville is the heart and soul of the run, as he has designed, organized, mapped out all the routes (and pre-run them all many, many times), coordinated the start and finish and much more. And I am grateful to Lee Magna, a Reliability Run Regular, for the great photos too!
The fourth running of the Reliability Run was enjoyed by all despite a couple of attempts by Mother Nature to get us wet. Scenic drives and a lively social scene left everyone looking forward to next year. Let’s get the tough news done with: this was the first year our Reliability Run had a car fail to complete the drive. It was bound to happen eventually and the dubious honor goes to Sam Patterson whose newly restored TR250 suffered a loss of oil pressure in the first hour of the run, just north of Lime Rock. Preliminary investigation suggests a thrust washer was to blame. Happily Dave Icaza loaned Sam his own TR250 and Sam and Kim were able to join the group later on Friday in Glens Falls and complete the Run with the replacement car. The lesson learned here is that reliability takes work and is built over time with these old cars. Sam was very unlucky as thrust washers usually go for some time before wear becomes a concern and this sort of failure was an extremely low-probability event. The Reliability Run is not the most extreme test of cars but it does require that cars be maintained and driven regularly and over some distance so that emerging problems can be recognized and resolved before they become problems. Sam didn’t have the time for this given that his car was finished just before the event and unfortunately paid the price. Most of the cars and drivers taking part have done this run before without issues and deserve credit for keeping their cars in tip-top condition. I think we all shared in Sam’s disappointment and were happy to see Team Patterson Oil back in the running by the end of the day. It had been a day where the weather followed a somewhat familiar pattern: a bit damp and cool at the start, but improving as the day wore on. The dampness in Connecticut extended to some fairly thick mist on route 63 from Litchfield to Goshen. We escaped the mist by dropping down route 4 into Cornwall Bridge and then making a less direct progress to Sharon by running alongside the Housatonic and down route 41 into Sharon. The view on the approach to Sharon was quite dramatic as the sun started to put in an appearance.
After a rest stop in Amenia we made our way through the network of county roads in Dutchess and Columbia Counties towards our lunch break in Chatham. Agriculture is still very active in this part of the world resulting in some splendid vistas across rolling, open countryside that are quite few and far between in more heavily wooded Connecticut where many otherwise interesting roads are just tunnels through the trees. After lunch we made our way over to Stephentown, where Cumberland Farms is a frequent rest stop on my route planning. Here those who were participating in Friday’s route bade us farewell and set off back to Connecticut. We headed north, making full use of New York’s long distance state route 22 to put some miles behind us on the way to Glens Falls. Once we had passed through Hoosick Falls and North Hoosick it was time to bid NY 22 farewell and search for some quieter roads.
This took the form of a detour through the Buskirk Bridge, the only covered bridge in NY state that links two counties. A network of minor roads took us through a few farms to Schaghticoke and a turn on to route 40. The countryside here is devoted to dairy farming and offers great views of the distant Adirondacks across the Hudson. The weather was mostly cloudy but clear enough to enjoy the views until we reached the outskirts of the greater Glens Falls area and eventually our hotel. The weather on Saturday morning was a distinct improvement and added greatly to the drive to Brandon, VT. We followed the 2018 drive’s route along the shore of Lake George as far as the Lake Champlain Bridge at Crown Point, and then travelled through Vermont farming country to Brandon. The approach to Brandon on VT 73 offered good views of the Green Mountains which appeared to block further progress. Brandon offered a good variety of eating and watering holes and with the cars cooled off and the teams well fed we set off to traverse the Brandon Gap through the mountains. The road through the Gap offers fairly long, moderate climbs but plenty of them on the way to the summit at 2,183’ under the stern gaze of Mt Horrid (3,216’) The cars then had the chance to cool off on the descent to Rochester and VT 100. Once back in the valley the going was easier with only a minor climb through Granville Gap to contend with before the real challenge appeared. VT 17 offers some good combinations of sharp bends and steep gradients on the way over the Appalachian Gap Pass, with a summit at 2,375’. The first group of cars found the summit shrouded in low cloud, but conditions had cleared a bit by the time the second flight arrived and enjoyed some views on the way down from the Pass. The weather had by now deteriorated somewhat and both groups played dodge the showers on the way back to Glens Falls. The really heavy downpour in a thunderstorm caught the second group just 15 miles from the hotel, forcing a stop to erect weather protection as there seemed to be no end to the heavy rain and no way to maintain a speed that would keep the rain away. Sunday offered the best weather of the weekend. I think at least one car went to a car wash to remove the evidence of the previous day’s escapades, but then when you’ve borrowed somebody else’s car for the weekend the least you can do is send it home clean. Most of the cars wore their road dirt home. It was acquired honestly, the Reliability Run of course has to go on come rain or shine. Our route home followed some hill and dale roads through Greenwich and on to Cambridge before taking the inevitable trip down NY 22 to Stephentown. From there we followed county roads that run more or less parallel to 22 but allow a more relaxed pace and some glimpses at distant hills. Eventually we reached the horse country around Ancram once more and then went over the ridge of high ground and into Millerton. From there it was a short trip down the old iron ore track into Lime Rock, past the little side road called Furnace Road that hints at the iron working past, and into Lime Rock Park for our cookout farewell.
We were able to hand over a cheque for around $11,000 to Anna, representing the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp. I think that takes our four year total to somewhere just over $40,000 which is commendable for a relatively small event. Of course, in my mind that raises the question of why the event does not attract more people, but for the moment I was just pleased that the regular stalwarts and the new recruits had all enjoyed another Run and had done so well to support a worthy cause. Normally when you drive a route that you have planned yourself and driven several times, it’s a bit like knowing what everybody is getting for Christmas. This Run wasn’t quite like that, the scenery still seemed as fresh as the first trial run in the late winter had suggested it would be, and I enjoyed the Run immensely. Upon reflection though I think what made the event so enjoyable was not the scenery, beautiful as it was, and it wasn’t the cars, as well as they ran. It was the continuing development of the friendships that come with taking part in the event over the years and the group dynamic that exists. It’s not a closed shop mind you, and I think the new recruits were immediately made to feel part of the team.