Richard Dolomite Restoration by Bennett Photography

Today I made a visit to my friend Richard who is halfway through restoring his Triumph Dolomite from the ground up, Ive followed hos efforts from the start and if Im brutally honest, Rich is doing a fine job, no corners being cut and a lengthy, meticulous effort is going into each and every section of the car.

Lack of a garage was no deterrent and certainly didnt put Rich off from facing this monumental task, something thats been his life goal from the start of him becoming a man, ever since dabbling into the world of the Dolomite, after the car suffering some mistreatment and bodge repairs that done badly in the cars past, these efforts left the car failing to stay road worthy and subsiquently left laid up and gathering dust in Richards lock up, waiting for the perfect time and money situation, Richard bide his time and fought the urge to do another quick fix to see the car return to road use.


Fortunately for Richard, between his home and his grandfathers, theres a decent plot of land sizable enough for a garage, but not looking to erect a built unit, Richard and his family instead looked into using a far simpler and more economical pop up garage, releasing further funds into the restoration.

With encouragement from his Uncle, an experienced and keen car fettler himself, the restoration begun, stripping the car to its bare laurels, every nut and bolt, every fixing, the car was to be overturned to get every nook and cranny attended to, so with help from his grandfather, who was a time served carpenter with skills reaching into metal work and fabrication, between the three they built a nifty homemade roll over Jig, beefy enough to turn the dolomite over and lock into place, the cars gremlins had no place to hide!


With the Dolomite now back to bare metal, the car was rooted out of its rusty past, and at a turning point in its some 30 years of life, it was tin worm free!
A perfect base to build apon then?


Richard never planned to simply restore the 70s icon, but improve on Triumphs efforts and make the end result more worth his attention and money, something that would catch eyes and bring a grin to Richards face when faced with a B road.
 

Now off the roll over jig, The Dolomite rests on axle stands for the first time in several months

Wide bolt on fibreglass arches, a Sprint engine running on twin Webber DCOE's, sound deadened, perspex windows Debumpered and finished in a gloss black topcoat including the underbody, Richard really plans to make a sorted Dolomite, and it will check off a big life achievement from his scrap book, something he can enjoy and be proud of.

Talking to Richard about his efforts thus far, his pride is eminent, and hes all to keen to point out and remark at his alterations and workmanship, that both him and his invaluable uncle have achieved so far.

Meticulous painting every where you can imagine, a painful few hours went into just the edges of the engine bay to get them smooth and spoil free prior to painting

Stone chip and many layers of hard wearing paint add up to a gleaming underside

the body work side of the restoration is almost at its end, with the underside painted, the engine bay smoothed out, painted and polished, the body bare metal, fillered and preped, its only a spray job away from the next stage, the mechanicals

Bonded on wide arches are a awesome touch, studs are to be kept paint free for that bolt on look

Sound deadening gives the cabin a premium feel and stops those pesky rattles

Things are well on track for Richards Dolomite, and im eager to see the progression of its restoration, once the suspension is being offered up to the car I will continue my report!

But for now, the project is at the mercy of the sand blasting company who is primarily taking care of the running gear prior to painting by Richard and Robert his uncle.

 

Reinforment to the rear seat panel is a smart mod that Richard carried out

No more bumpers is a bold move in favour of style over protection

mk2 Escort rally car by Bennett Photography

The opportunities we get in life are often given to us as we deserve them, such is true of Johnathan and his rather epic story regarding his mk2 Escort.

When something breaks, weaker willed people throw it away, Johnathan however decides to replace for something even stronger, take gearboxes for instance, I've seen John drive, as he ploughs round Castle Combe circuit, he holds nothing to back, he drives as if his life depends on it and sod the mechanical sympathies you and I have for something they fund towards.


So inevitably the gearbox fell apart as the 200+ horsepower the I4 RS2300 engine pumped out was sent through it, but with his ear to the ground, John heard the growing popularity of using Mazda sourced Rx8 6 speed gearboxes as an alternative, due to their cheap costs and easy to find availability, John saw this as a very real option to handle his engines power and his driving style, however they dont simply bolt up to any of fords power units as you'd expect them to, however working for an engineering firm has it perks afterall, John began to mock up h is very own design of an adapter plate to take a RX8 gearbox and mount it to a ford engine.


Now they key producer of ford derived RX8 adapter plates and selling them to the UK and overseas John now has more than enough to prove why his mk2 has the credentials to tear up the track of his choosing, and live to drive John back home to the welsh valleys, who needs a trailor!


The engine is a RS2000 based 2.3 I4, using the head off the Escort RS2000, and the block of a Galaxy, coupled with its uprated internals, Jenvey throttle bodies producing 208bhp, so with it sounding incredible, going like a molested cat, and the ability to hold down its power, much in thanks to its mk3 capri LSD rear axle, John decided, rallying is something he'd like to dabble in.

I4 2.3 engine

 

After dabbling in some autotest rally events, tarmac and the loose stuff, John took a shine to it, deciding to built the car for competitive events, and tackling his MSA licence along with his partner Rebecca and some mates.

The change to MSA logbook prep was straight forward and thanks to his prior events the escort was more than half way there, thing such as a full roll cage, electric cut off, full fire extinguisher systems, we actually had this shoot when Johnathan was waiting on the results of his scrutineering.  

set in the beautiful welsh valleys, the escort looks right at home.

Getting the experience under his belt, the car is proving to be a real promising effort, and will only improve as more things break and get upgraded!

Looking stunning here you see is not how John found it after all, after owning her for a few years, it become quite battered and become in poor visual repair, enough is enough said John,  and decided on a home built effort, repairing each panel one by one , adding in the characterful bonnet scoop, working his way back, and respraying the interior along the way, John ended up with a home grown paint job that really sets his hard worked efforts off and resulting in a stunning rally car that looks just as good on the mud as it does a show stand.

PS. thats my jack you see there

Elan valley trip by Bennett Photography

Theres many places within my own country I want to explore, as it is for many of us, living in the south, I dont often venture up to mid wales, but me and the other half planned to make the drive up through the valleys passing Brecon and Builth wells to visit the network of dams in Elan Valley.

Ive heard of its scenery and beautiful views, even seeing one of the dams on Top Gear but even the drive there was worth the trip, We traveled from Port Talbot through the Afan valley, going over the Bridgend county Bwlch road, which is one of the highest points close to my home, from there you can see for miles, with large drops and panning vistas

A4061 Bwlch road has many stunning views

Further on the road we stopped once more at a stunning hillside which is home to s small shed that seems to have been made the subject of an art feature, opposite this shed is a beautiful view over the valley.

 

View past the painted shed

Passing over Brecon Beacons was thrilling enough, passing Beacons Reservoir, where a tour bus had made its stop, further into the valley 

Brecon

After passing Builth wells i was on the back foot, never having travelled beyond the town myself, But with that come plenty of surprises as what come next was unknown to me, we passed through a small village called Rhayader, passing its very central streets, which was homer to its clock tower.

Rhayader town central clock tower

Not much further to go now as we were beginning to see signs for the Elan Valley, a few more miles on the open country road and we arrived at the visitors centre, where it was heaving, we struggled to park, resorting to making our own parking space even!

A quick look around the centre and we headed up the most obvious trail, which lead us straight to a large over bearing dam right off the bat, it panned the valley width and was as high as the road side atop the hillsides. 

Lowermost and first reservoir at Elan valley

To carry on the trail we had to climb up a very steep bank to reach the road side, but from up the top we could see the entire reservoir that dam was holding, and what a sight it was!

Caban-Coch reservoir (lowermost)

Heading onwards we had a 4 mile walk to the next reservoir that was feeding the lower one, with stunning views and a lovely day to boot, we arrived at the following reservoir.

Garreg-ddu reservoir

Further along the trail we stopped at a quaint little waterfall, the road then to the next reservoir was long and slightly uphill, taking us another hour to reach it, but we spotted the large mass of water  running over the dams ridge from over a mile out, we gained excitement and hurried on the path.

WE arrived at the top of the hill to this sight, it took my breath away, despite the climb, a real awe inspiring view of a massive waterfall over the dam, the Pen y garreg Dam holds a massive body of water which luckily had reached its capacity and was flowing over the dam unlike the previous two we come across along the way.

Pen y garreg Dam

Pen y garreg Dam

Right behind us while viewing the dam was this beautiful view of what to me, looks liek an enchanted forest, the sun was shining through perfectly, it just summed up the whole day for me, I was ready for the return walk after seeing this, I come to see the marvelous Elan valley, at this point I felt I had.

Madagascan Bullseye Silkmoths by Bennett Photography

A friend of mine happened to take interest in a batch of 4 exotic caterpillars that got brought into his work place, a local pet and animal store, so intrigued he decided to step outside his usual comfort zone of fish and marine life he bought the 4 and took them home to care for and feed.

A few days had passed and these caterpillar went from being hungry little nibblers, eating away at various oak leaves and the like to going more rather unmotivated behavour patterns, was it time?


The caterpllar covered themselves in silk and begun to cacoon, hardening into a husk the 4 of them become very still and lay there in wait.
Several hours passed, until one cacoon begun to move, splitting open to reveal the once was caterpillar inside had become large, hairy and somewhat different!
 

I got in touch with Ashley as I just had to go for a little shoot with these beautiful insects!

Empty Madagascan Silkmoth cacoon

Out climbed a rather beautiful Moth, later identified as a Madagascan Bullseye Silkmoth, colourful, fluffy and exuberant

 

3 of them had flourished into Moths, sadly one perished during its cacoon stage, the female was especially full of zest, fluttering around, and altogether a difficult photo subject.

However the fully formed male was less eager to waste its energy and sat still mostly, you see this breed of silkmoth only feed whilst in larvae form, once fully formed as a Moth they lose their mouth parts and with it, the ability to feed, so with only a few days worth of lifespan, their only purpose once fledged is to reproduce and lay the eggs in a suitable hatchery, of which there are dozens of, the female had laid more than half a dozen at the time I spent with them.

 

The physiology of the Bullseye silkmoth is fairly large, they are densely covered in thick orange and brown furr, which doesn't dissipate all that much dust unlike most moths, if any at all.
They have large black compound eyes, much like most of their butterfly and moth cousins, large frilly silica like antenae, which many hair lined probes on each, they have a bulky main body, with 6 long and furry legs that are home to a long hook like claw for grip, with a long thick thorax, their 4 wings are large in span, measuring about 3-4 inches when spread wide, which are covered in brown furr with very eye catching "bullseye" patterns embossed by a pink whisp line on the leading edges.

The frail wings are not designed for long life, and after just a few hours of flight begin to lose scales and furr, even fracturing at the ends and splitting, very delicate indeed

 

The female as I was taking photographs, laid about half a dozen eggs, They're tiny, about the size of a flea, mustard in colour and round, they were quite sticky to the touch which serves as a binding agent to help the parent moth attach them to a suitable surface such as branch or tree

700_7196.jpg

It will be interesting to see whether or not these eggs are successful or not in growing more caterpillars.

Focus RS hill climb by Bennett Photography

The Focus RS I recently photographed, owned by Luke Morgan was taken through its paces on the Epynt hill climb the other day by Luke, who frankly, considering its a month old 34 grand car had no reservations as he thrashed the 4WD hot hatch through the chicanes and ropey ribbon of tarmarc, with so little margin of error im blown away by this mesmerising up hill sprint.


Watch the in car footage Here:

                                                  Click photo above for the video

Luke's daring sprint pulled him in a 63 second time lending him 6th in the entire day, and only second in his class, loosing out by only 1.03 seconds to his good friend Ryan Suter of JMS photographic in his equally zesty Audi RS3, whos daring and confidence helped stay off Luke as the competition.

Not bad for standard car's as also in attendence were rally bred purpose built track cars, which inevitably took the lead but by not as big of a margin as you'd expect.


Some more photos of this beautiful RS I captured just 2 weeks ago...

Have you updated your camera? by Bennett Photography

Firmware updates are important to your camera, whether it be a point and shoot or a professional DSLR!

Updating the cameras firmware can bring updates such as; autofocus updates, or revised menu designs, even new features.

Updating the firmware on a Nikon D700, offset; D200 and D300s

Dont worry you wont loose any settings, even my precious shooting menu bank data remained, so you wont find yourself setting all these time consuming parameters up again, even the time and date is safe.

Tonight I checked for updates on my Nikon DSLR's, 3 of which had an update ready, The D700 was raised from firmware version 1.01 through to 1.03 on both A and B firmware, my D300s and D200 also were updated, but then so was my point and shoot, A Fuji J10.

Fuji J10 getting a firmware update

Make sure you check out your manufactures website for any updates available.