Howard Hodson Renault AX Gearbox

This is an Article, From MID EAST Vintage Car Magazine,

As you read this, the driving season will be almost over. For us the driving year started with April's Creepy Crawly Rally, of course, the weather did not cooperate, but apart from that, we all had a fabulous time with excellent routes and visits. This year's event was a truly international affair with friends bringing cars from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Dunston Hall, near Norwich, is an excellent venue for such a large event and I am sure the Mid East will be returning there in the not-too-distant future.

The Lady President's Day at the start of June was a great success. Unfortunately, Jane and I could not attend as we were in transit between two other events - the HCCA's Beautiful Brass Cars (BBC) tour in rural Pennsylvania, USA and a Renault Fréres' rally in northern France, the latter being organised by Sharon and Dennis Bass. There are so many opportunities to get the cars out these days. It is a hard life!

This year's Mid East Main was a first for Barbara and Mike Dedman. It was also the first time we had been to 'Constable Country'. With no car available at the time of the event, Jane and I hitched a lift in the back of Martin and Jane Whitlock's Model T Ford.

We had a great time as back seat navigator and driver. Barbara and Mike put on an excellent rally — fantastic routes, visits, a boat trip and more, Martin even managed to do a spot of fishing while on the boat.

During Barbara and Mike's rally, we had a chance to visit the site where John Constable painted his famous 'The Hay Wain'. Surprisingly little has changed since 1821. It seems that the current theory as to why the hay cart is in the middle of the river, apparently going nowhere, is surprisingly familiar. They are soaking the wheels to tighten up!

The Mid East's Autumn Closer was also a first-time event its organiser, Howard Pryor. As well as first names, Howard and I also share a passion for early Cadillacs. He is clearly a wise man. We could not attend because of our annual trip to Hershey but having heard the plans I am sure it was a well organised and enjoyable event.

In terms of our cars, the past twelve months have been a bit of an annus horribilis, to quote a certain monarch. Fixing the gearbox on our Renault AX had been a mammoth project involving a new casing and a new gear set. Making the gear casing involved contributions from three continents (Australia, USA and the UK — yes, I know we are not a continent but we can dream!

The gears for the AX were made by Apple Rochester Gears of Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, who went far beyond normal expectations as we worked our way through numerous problems created by previous repair 'specialists'. Special thanks are due to Cliff Linnitt, their general manager. Clearly, Apple Rochester Gears (they actually do much more than gears) are not a complete secret in our world. On one visit I bumped into Ken Goddard there, who was having splines cut on a shaft. On another visit, I had a chance to inspect the work that they were doing for Stuart Gray at the Shuttleworth Collection.

You might recall me reporting that the crankshaft broke on our Buick on the 2018 North West Main Event. While the engine was apart, Apple Rochester also remanufactured the gearset and driveshaft for the oil pump. This is a tricky thing to do because the performance is very dependent on achieving tight clearances. The pump is now as good as the day it left the Buick factory.

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