by Mike Peake
As you all probably know by now, Poppy has been chosen to appear on the groups inaugural stand at the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show at the NEC. Initially, I was really pleased and honoured that our Events Fat Controller, Gar Cole had chosen Poppy.
However, I realised that as it is a restoration show, we need restored cars, cars being restored and cars before restoration. I’m guessing mine is in the latter category and am not so pleased and honoured anymore. Oh! Wait a minute. I can call Poppy a “rolling restoration”. There. Pleased and honoured again.
Regular readers of my blogs may remember that I left my story with Poppy limping off the M4 having broken the throttle assembly anchor point ¼ of a mile from home after a really good weekend at our Norfolk meet last year.
Well I’m ashamed to say that I abandoned her in the lock up and didn’t go back until the middle of February when I thought I’d better check her out for the NEC. Not all my fault as I had been busy with my nephews 1st car. A 1999 Ford Ka which he bought without taking any advice from anyone! (Perhaps the subject of a blog for the pre-mil group? Well maybe.)
Poppy was really not happy at such neglect and let her disappointment and jealousy be known by having a right strop. It started fairly simply as the throttle anchor plate hadn’t actually broken, merely come adrift due to a loose nut. This was very quickly sorted and I was behind the wheel ready to start her up.
This is where the argument started. All I got was a click when I turned the key. My CR-V was quickly positioned in front of the lock up and jump leads applied. Back behind the wheel, but I still only got a click. So, back to the jump leads and repositioned the positive directly to the starter and was rewarded with a very slow “Errrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhh, Errrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhh, Errrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhh,” and then silence.
Now I was quite proud of my jump leads as they were the 1st bit of kit I ever bought for my 1st car back too many years to mention and probably at the cheaper end of the market. So you can imagine my disappointment when they started smoking and melting. Jump leads were quickly removed and thrown some distance and then 15 minutes was spent picking molten plastic out of by burnt palm and fingers.
Perhaps I should have disconnected at the other end 1st but proper, high amperage jump leads are now at the top of my shopping list. As is a new passenger door mirror which fell off and broke when a Fatbloke tried to squeeze between the car and the lock up wall.
Next came 10 minutes of me pretending to know what to do with a multi-meter. Regardless of where I stuck the probes though…(Stop it ! stop it! No more sniggering at the back!) I was getting approximately 13.5V each time. After all this probing…(I said STOP sniggering!) I decided that Poppy’s starter motor had gone to meet its maker and I set off home to investigate my options.
Some of you may remember that I have had previous experience with starter motors when the one in Mrs FB’s VW Tourette broke, so you will understand the trepidation I felt when I fired up the desk top to go looking. This trepidation was only slightly offset by the knowledge I would have the opportunity to shamelessly plug my blog “Introducing the VW Tourette or Why I HATE newer cars!” which is also available on this website - click here - and where I fully recount that VW repair.
Anyway, back to Poppy. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that James Paddocks could supply me with a brand new starter motor at a reasonable price so I ordered it. When I get bored I may investigate and repair the old one to sell on ebay.
The very next weekend I was back at the lockup with a shiny new starter under my arm and immediately set about fitting it but 1st I decided to reposition Poppy in the lock up so I had more room to work. It was then that I noticed that when I abandoned her, I had left the handbrake on and the rear brakes were now stuck! Another job added to the list.
So, with the added indignity of being squeezed between the car and the wall, the wire was disconnected and I located the bolt head securing the starter at the bottom, identified the correct socket and fitted various extensions and ratchet all by feel as I couldn’t fit me into a position to see it properly. I then proceeded to work the ratchet 1/8th of a turn at a time as this was all I had room for.
10 minutes later, I was starting to wonder why it didn’t seem to be getting any looser or easier to turn. It took another 5 minutes of ratcheting for me to start wondering if there might be a nut on the other end of the bolt rather than a captured thread in the bell housing. There was! I could just about make it out in the dim glow of the head torch I was wearing in my unpowered council lock up. However, I wouldn’t be able to get to it to fit a holding spanner without removing the engine valence 1st. I said rude words as I have been here before.
Yes, I should have drained the radiator and removed it before taking the valence off but I was in a bad mood and really couldn’t be bothered. 5 minutes later, the valence was off and the radiator was hanging in the breeze down it’s left hand side. It wasn’t too loose though and as I now had room to work, I didn’t care. I’d had enough to do fiddling with the wiring harness and fuel line fitted through and around this valence.
Now I had more room the new starter was very quickly fitted and I was back behind the wheel ready to give it a go. I turned the key and…..hark the herald angel sang!.... really, really loudly because the throttle was stuck open. I shut it down quickly, and refitted the valance whilst muttering bad words and thinking of stuck cables, seized linkages etc. I went home to suck it up with the help of some Merlot.
The next morning I was back around to the other side of the car to look at why the throttle was wide open. I wiggled the wiggly thing on the carb body that is attached to the cable and it wiggled ok. (Sorry if I’m getting too technical for anyone?) I also wiggled the cable and that seemed to go in and out of its sleeve ok too, so I was stumped. I set the throttle to low and it stayed there. So I started her up and she rumbled along nicely if a little fast until I pushed the pedal and the revs increased and stayed there when I released the pedal.
I got back out and prodded, poked and wiggled everything in the general area but this got me nowhere. I was about to give up when I spotted a tiny little spring on the floor partially hidden under the suspension. Then it dawned on me. I picked up the throttle return spring and quickly fitted it into the correct location. I then adjusted the cable to reduce the tick over speed and all was well. I was back in my comfort zone of being an incompetent bumbling fool.
I drove Poppy out of the lock up, hoping the rear brakes would free off with a bit of motion. They didn’t. So I drove her back in front 1st and had the back jacked up and on stands and the wheels off before taking a big hammer and attacking the drums with it as I ‘d heard this could work. It didn’t.
So I poured myself a coffee from my thermos and sat and pondered hoping for inspiration which came eventually. I took my big hammer and gently tapped the wheel cylinders back and hey presto! The wheels spun freely. Copper grease was added wheels refitted and I took Poppy and my grin for a spin around my local green lanes and all was well.
The following weekend saw her vacuumed and washed and ready to jointly star on Stand 140 in hall 7 along with the Brooks P5 Camper van, Liam White’s Granada, Andrew Tanner’s Hillman Coatelan, and Lincoln Hunt’s Range Rover. More details of all the cars on our Stand 140 in hall 7, can he found by following this clicky linky thingy.
If you haven’t got your tickets yet, you can still get them if you are quick and use the discount codes below. Come along and say hello, we’ll be on the stand on and off for the whole show. If you’re quick enough, you might even get a slice of cake!
A huge thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to make this possible, especially Events Coordinator Gar Cole and Captain Paul Sweeney. I shall let you know of all the japes, shenanigans and happenings when we get back from the show. See you there!
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